Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Spicy To-do List (Update)

I'm pretty impressed with how this last week ended up. I completed a ton of the things on my list and many if not most of those accomplishments were due to them being on the list. I feel like I got out of the blah's I had happened into and I really enjoyed all of the spices during the process. To top it off I did pretty well with spending too. We're going to dinner with a friend this evening so I can't justifiably give an update on my average daily spending for August but right now I'm in the $17 range.

Lesson learned from this experiment: It's really very important to remind oneself to do things that make you happy/ things you love throughout the busy days and weeks that seem to run into each other with the ordinary, the mundane, the never ending to-dos. It's the spicy things in life that make it most enjoyable and I think little black rain clouds and robots don't much like spices.

Somethings Out of the Ordinary To-do List (Spices)
Listen to LOTS of music: Check
Make a brand new dinner: Not yet
Capture something absolutely beautiful in photograph (ideally this would include a something beautiful hunt): Not quite.
Read an entire book, not just a few pages, not a few pages from a few books, an entire book. I love to read and hardly ever do it: Working on it!
Draw/ Sketch: A little bit, yes.
Do a fun outdoor activity with little Abe: We went to a tennis court and played tennis today for the first time. He was thrilled. I got some pretty good exercise in too (chasing the ball).
Write a letter (you know the kind you mail with a stamp): Written. Will be mailed on Tuesday.
Go for a nice long walk: Yes.
Bake something extra yummy: The yummiest chocolate cake I've ever eaten!
Do a new craft with little Abe: Crafted a little but nothing new yet.
Sew something even if it's silly and useless: Nope.
Write a story: Yep.
Visit with a friend or relative: Spent some time with two friends and hung out with my sister yesterday.
Don't watch or listen to the news. It's just too much doom and gloom: Doing pretty good with this one too.
Yep. He's throwing the ball at the racket on the ground.

Today we Tour British Accents... why not

How'd she do Frugally Challenged?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reflection and Revelation

That was clearly not a very uplifting story (my last post). Before falling asleep the other night I was thinking about my teenage/ young adult years and how truly uncomfortable they were. I had a home but I know what it's like to feel homeless. I felt homeless for the eight years that I lived in that house. Between three different homes of very close friends of mine I spent more time away from my house than I did at it (or at least I tried).

My parents got divorced when I was 10 and we moved out of the home I grew up in when I was 14. During the four years post divorce that we lived in my childhood home we pretty much trashed the place; four young kids and a mom who gave up on life but we practically demolished the house we moved to out in the country. I wasn't old enough at the time to understand that things break and you have to fix them. I felt like we were cursed. Oh, and they break faster when you don't take care of them. Everything in that house was broken, rotting, falling to pieces, trashed, and the hoard... I never knew that it had a name until that show hoarders started airing on TV. I never knew there were other houses on the planet like ours until I watched that show. For the record we did have a bit more floor showing in our home than most of the houses on that show but my oh my the similarities are scary.

I was thinking about living there and imagined it'd be constructive for me to write a little blip about it. I'm happy to report that it was, for me anyhow. I find myself terrified at times that I'm going to end up like "that." Every time something breaks there's this fear that grips me, "oh no, it's starting..." Every night when I'm picking up toys, hubby's socks, some dirty clothes; general straightening up that always takes way too long I worry that, "my house is becoming..." When I notice one of my clutter spots (I have a few BUT they never last too long, another springs up in a different location, and then I clear that one away) I am almost paralyzed with thoughts, "the hoard is here!"

But looking back, really looking back and remembering having to climb piles of clothes to get to the other side of a room, the ceiling falling in in several spots, the mold in the dishwasher, the countless dishes I literally threw in the trash because they were too gross for me to even think about cleaning, the stench, oh! I will never live like that again. I don't live like that. Someday came. I have my own home, that I take care of. We always fix things here when they break. I have my own family. Oh my word, I am normal! There's nothing to hide. When people come over for a bon-fire (theoretically... because we hardly ever have people over and we don't have a fire pit) I don't have to tell them before hand that if they have to pee they will have to do so by a tree because there is NO WAY they are going in my house.

I'm having this tiny revelation that even though I generally feel scatter brained, overwhelmed by chores and cleaning that needs to be done, that when something breaks I freak out about where we'll get the money to fix it, I actually harbor a decent amount of shame that I'm not good enough at this whole "adult life thing," I'm really doing just fine. A lot of the robotic/ little black cloud stints are a direct result of the paralyzing fear that I'm failing at life. All these Debbie Downer worries and stresses about someday ending up back there are old ghosts. I'm not perfect BUT my life is NOTHING like it was there in that house and I wasn't the one who made that mess (I was the only one who ever tried to fix it actually). Someday is here and it's pretty darn great!

Average daily spending for August: $18.07

Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting Ready for Work at Seventeen

Today's Spice: write a story
Where is that darn work shirt again? I can’t ever find anything in this house. Ugh! Maybe it’s in my room; I checked there three times already though. 
Walking drudgingly through the hallway, glancing in the open bathroom door, sees nothing but darkness. Covers nose, as the putrid aroma in the house is magnified by a thousand times upon approaching the bathroom. 
Why would it be in there? Nah, I don’t even remember the last time I went in there. The toilet hasn’t worked in weeks… oh, gross, it totally smells like someone has been using it though. Pretty sure if I push the door open any further more of the crumbling ceiling that’s resting on top of it from the roof leak will come crashing down on my head. Nah, it’s not in there. There’s no way. I wonder why the patch that Dad helped me put on the roof didn’t hold… what a waste of time! And I ruined those pants with tar.
Continuing down the hall way, has to step over a few different piles of discarded junk mail scattered on the floor, very large mounds of clothing, a phone book, and a baseball bat. 
If that stupid shirt makes me late for work I’m going to be so mad all evening. Where is it? Why is it always so difficult to get dressed for work? I think I’m going to hurt someone. Oh my word, did the dog poop under the kitchen table again!?!? I think I’m going to kill someone. Why, why is no one capable of cleaning a single mess up in this pig sty? 
Proceeds to pick up a small pile of hardened dog poop with a paper towel; places it into an overfull trash can that has several flies swarming above it, and a considerable pile of trash spilled all around the outside of it. The beige wall behind the can is almost painted with splattered food and beverages that might have found their way into the trash can at one point in time (but more likely fell beside it). Then proceeds to pick up a few more piles of dog poop from beneath the table. A mouse dashes from behind the trash can and into a hole next to the broken dish washer. 
I hate it here. I HATE it here! Who lives like this? Where is that stupid shirt?!?!? I need to leave now! 
Someone shouts from another room, “can you make me something to eat?” 
“NOOOO, I have to leave for work like now. Seriously, like five minutes ago. There has to be something you can make yourself to eat. Ask, mom to make you food. Have you seen my stupid work shirt anywhere?” 
A second shout comes back, “no, mom is sleeping. I can’t make myself anything to eat because there aren’t any clean dishes.” 
Or counter space. My word, could it be possible to pile more crap onto those counters? I don’t think so. I think it’s physically impossible! I’m totally throwing away like half those dishes when I get home from work. Mom will never notice. No one will. I better take out that trash when I get home from work too. Oh no, I hope no one washed it! Haha, why would anyone do laundry? 
Laughs extra hard and bends forward a bit at the absurd thought of someone laundering clothing here. 
Oh man, if someone washed it it’s going to be so yellow. Our darn water! I hate this house. Why did mom make us move here? You can’t wash white in this house. I will look horrid going to work in a yellow tux shirt, and next to all the other servers wearing white… no, I’ll have to call in sick. 
Arrives in the laundry room/ one working bathroom, climbs over a two and half foot pile of laundry spanning about 7 feet of floor, opens the washing machine lid and then pushes aside some clothing to be able to look into the dryer. 
Thank God! Dang it where is THAT shirt?!?!? Seriously I better go back to my room and pack a change of clothes. There’s no way I’m coming home tonight. I can probably call Amber from the payphone at work. Her parents will totally let me stay over. I bet I smell though. I know this house makes me smell, it has to, I can smell Lisa’s house on her clothes. No, no I spend all my time in my room and my room does not smell. I’m calling Amber as soon as I get to work. Ahh, where is that shirt?!?! Someday! Someday I will get out of here. Someday I will have my own home, my own family. Someday I will actually be able to have friends over. I will not live like this forever. Who lives like this? 
Tears start streaming. Walking past two people sitting on the couch amongst some empty food wrappers, more clothing, stuffed toys, several cats; they're watching an old television set that's crammed into an large TV console that's almost toppling from all the papers, books, and random nonsense that's been shoved into every crevice on the piece of furniture and all over the top as well; almost trips on a broom lying in the middle of the living room,steps in a wet puddle that turns the bottom of the white sock on her foot yellow then notices a white linen fabric bunched up under one of the cats. 
Ah ha, you stupid shirt! Someday…
The house was eventually foreclosed on and then demolished.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jam or Jelly

The age old question: is it jam or jelly?

Or I guess if you live over the pond, what's jelly?

This chart is great in explaining the different spreads. I've linked the source under the photo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Today's Spice: JAM

The rose hips have been harvested. I'm sad to report that I now understand why farmers use pesticides. I'm not saying I ever will, but there were small worms in many of my rose hips. Also, considering the amount of flowers I had on the bush this year I'm amazed at how few good ripe rose hips I was able to get. Oh, the mysteries of life...

A friend brought by a big bag of rhubarb today (she picked it from her grandma's garden). I loved the jam last time I made it so I made up another batch tonight. Last time I made strawberry rhubarb jam. This time I used what I had with only 1 cup of frozen strawberries in the freezer, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, all the rose hips I could harvest (hardly any), 3 cups of fresh rhubarb, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 gelatin packet. The jam is AWESOME! I put it in an empty pizza sauce jar. (there's more in a second jar)

I just discovered that tomato slices (from ugly tomato) on top of carrot mashed potatoes topped off with cheddar cheese is also AWESOME! I hoped the tomato slices on top would be good because I'm trying to figure out ways to use my garden fruit but I was skeptical. Oh my, I love food way too much.

I think we're going to take a little family walk downtown tonight to watch the musical fountain. Since we live here we NEVER do that. It should be a really nice little family outing.

Average daily spending for August: $17.33

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today's Spice: Dinner at the Kitchen Table

My friend and I are doing a cleaning swap this week (that's what we call it). She watched little Abe for me today while I cleaned for two hours at my house and I'll watch her little one tomorrow while she cleans at her place. This is the second time we've done the swap and I'm still AMAZED at how much I can accomplish in two hours without my little buddy at my heels.

I deep cleaned in my small kitchen and re-arranged things so that the microwave (and a hundred other items) is no longer on the kitchen table. My husband grew up eating in front of the TV and he's basically insisted we continue the tradition here. I fussed about it for a few years but seeing as we didn't have kids for the first ten years of our marriage I never made a huge deal of it. I'm embarrassed typing it for all the world to read but we've never eaten together around a table at home before, the three of us. We've eaten at tables in restaurants and at other peoples homes. We three eat dinner together every night (mostly) but we don't eat at a table here. It makes my heart a little sad just typing that out. I grew up eating at a table (well for 10 years anyhow). I don't enjoy eating dinner in front of the TV (for the most part I don't enjoy the TV at all).

While I was making dinner tonight I got the newly cleared off table all set with plates and beverages and the ever present ketchup bottle (my husband is really an old 5 year old). I walked into the living room and told the man very politely that I would really appreciate it if we could eat together at the table tonight. He does know that this is something I desire. He laughed so hard (you have to know his sense of humor). At first he joked with me and said no but then he acquiesced. I cannot remember feeling more happy; just pleasantly happy. My husband ate with a scowl on his face for the first few minutes. I'm certain he was just picking on me but it was annoying. He couldn't keep it up for very long though because our darling boy kept talking, and talking, and talking, and... he is a yapper. The little guy kept making us both giggle and telling silly jokes and just non stop blabbing. I couldn't have dreamed of a more pleasant dinner around the kitchen table for our first time. It was perfect. Might I add that a tremendous sun beam was coming in through the west window shining onto my spot at the table. It was certainly metaphorical because I was truly glowing inside.

All in all today was great. There was nothing robotic about it. It was the "spiciest" day I've lived in ages. I shared my wonderful chocolate cake with two friends and my husband's step dad. We received a gift of fresh picked tomatoes and corn from my husband's grandmother's garden. My kiddo had several adventures that he made sure to give thanks for tonight during our prayers (eating at the table was one of them). I picked up eggs from the farm on my way home from work. I feel abnormally grand after picking up those farm fresh eggs. It's like I'm going out of my way to be... I don't know, back to basics. I saw a garden full of sunflowers that had to have been 15 feet tall at least. They were amazing! I read some more of my book. I think I'm about a third way through with it now. I feel refreshed.

Average daily spending for August: $17.80

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was an ugly tomato.
The repulsive little fellar was so self conscious he tucked his sad face down and curled right up into a ball.
"No way in all of time, in all the universe would anyone ever love such an unsightly fruit," he sighed.
Just then his mother happened upon him with glee and jubilee.
"OH, my little one. You are the most special, the most interesting, and owning more character than all the rest. How I adore you so!!!"
Everyone was happy then. Thee end.

This is a black krim heirloom tomato. It is terribly misshapen but the colors are correct for a ripe black krim. In this second photo little Abe is covering up the most blemished spot (unintentionally).

Monday, August 25, 2014

Today's Spice: Chocolate Cake

The most involved chocolate cake I've ever made!!!

I had in mind what cake I wanted to make. I had to run to the store to get several of the ingredients for it. After a trip to the store I made the cake part of the three part recipe. It was going well until an enormous thunderstorm came in and the power went out with about 15 minutes left on the timer. The power was out for awhile so the cake was in the oven for MUCH longer than 35 minutes. Thankfully the power came back on, I got the oven back on, and the cake baked all the way through without any textural mishaps.

Next I whipped up the chocolate mousse filling. Even though my cake ended up a disaster this recipe is completely worth it just for the mousse filling. It's probably the yummiest thing I've ever eaten. No joke. I'm guessing I should have spread the filling thinner between the four layers because my cake pretty much collapsed/ toppled TWICE. I was out of time for making the frosting at this point and I had to rush to work with chocolate cake mix and chocolate mousse filling splattered all over my kitchen. No joke.

I made the frosting when I got home from work and I also had to explain to my husband what that brown pile of crummy ugliness was sitting on the plate in the refrigerator. You can find the recipe here and I've linked it under the photo. Honestly, it's the yummiest chocolate cake I've ever made. It might be the yummiest chocolate cake I've ever eaten it just turned out uglier than ugly. The photo on the left is the original. The photo on the right is mine. Yes, mine WAS a four layer cake as well. Not sure how I ended up with only two layers... somewhere in all the toppling I lost two layers. I am the next great baker! Oh yeah!

Other lovely bits about today: Little Abe and I sat and watched the rain pouring from the sky during the power outage. He kept saying, "it's so beautiful." He makes me smile so much. We painted some rocks yellow that we're going to turn into little rock chicks. And I did start reading a book. Fingers crossed that I read the entire thing like I noted on my to-do list. It's a re-read so I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up the motivation to get through but it has been YEARS since I read it so... we'll see.

Average daily spending for August: $18.21

BONUS:Tour of American accents for Frugally Challenged
haha I couldn't resist! This is pretty much spot on by the way.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I Get Positively Giddy About "Free"

The city did a picnic this evening that involved a ton of free food; dinner, beverages, chips (not french fries, for you Europeans... what'd you say they were called over there Frugally Challenged, crisps?), cookies, and cake. It was just the break I've been needing. We'd already planned to go with friends of ours but I forgot it was this evening until the phone rang. I was needing to run to the store in order to make dinner tonight and I was thrilled that no such shopping trip would be in order. Hurray for free food!!! Plus little Abe got to climb around in a fire truck (the highlight of his day), play in a bouncy house and play at the playground with a bunch of other kids. Mark that one down for adding a bit of spice to the mundane. This momma was just happy about the free dinner. All the other stuff was icing.

Average daily spending for August: $17.62

Somethings Out of the Ordinary To-do List

Been operating in robot mode for awhile now. You know, when you wake up, feed everyone in the house, do the morning chores, get the kiddo down for a nap, head off to work, come home and make dinner, do the evening chores, off to bed and then repeat. Day after day goes by and you begin to feel drained, empty, and overwhelmed by nothingness...

I think that I switch into robot mode when there are too many overwhelming challenges, feelings, and or situations presenting themselves all together. Mostly just when I have too much on my mind; that little black rain cloud of heavy causes me to stall and I forget to add the spices to life that make it most enjoyable. I'm pretty sure we all take pit stops under the cloud from time to time. There are spells even when robot mode takes over and you can't remember when you last enjoyed life (that's generally called depression... I've been there). Those are sad times for anyone.

This week I'm having to remind myself to add some spices. I think clouds and robots don't much like spices.

Somethings Out of the Ordinary To-do List (Spices)
Listen to LOTS of music: Check
Make a brand new dinner: Not yet
Capture something absolutely beautiful in photograph (ideally this would include a something beautiful hunt): Not quite.
Read an entire book, not just a few pages, not a few pages from a few books, an entire book. I love to read and hardly ever do it: Working on it!
Draw/ Sketch: A little bit, yes.
Do a fun outdoor activity with little Abe: We went to a tennis court and played tennis today for the first time. He was thrilled. I got some pretty good exercise in too (chasing the ball).
Write a letter (you know the kind you mail with a stamp): Written. Will be mailed on Tuesday.
Go for a nice long walk: Yes.
Bake something extra yummy: The yummiest chocolate cake I've ever eaten!
Do a new craft with little Abe: Crafted a little but nothing new yet.
Sew something even if it's silly and useless: Nope.
Write a story: Yep.
Visit with a friend or relative: Spent some time with two friends and hung out with my sister yesterday.
Don't watch or listen to the news. It's just too much doom and gloom: Doing pretty good with this one too.
Will I do everything on the list this week? Almost certainly no. But I hope to do at least one thing spicy each day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Little Post

Turns out there are two reasons for a blogging absence at this here spot in the blogosphere. I tend to stay away from writing when my spending gets out of hand. Luckily that isn't my most recent cause for a blog break. I also don't regularly blog when I'm grouchy, overwhelmed, or frustrated. I actually quite appreciate the patterns about my life that I discover through blogging. It's like a fun little game.

Average daily spending for August: $18.60

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Turn

While going through the laundry I always pull out any sock of my husband's that has a hole in it and then I cut off the toe. I cut the toe off so that he won't wear it again and because I use old socks for rags. Why is it that I don't want my husband wearing holey socks and yet this is in my sock drawer?

I wore it the other day too. It's because I value my husband's comfort significantly more than I value mine. Recently I committed to finding little ways to take better care of myself. This sock (and sadly there is a matching one with virtually the exact same damage) is one little way I can take care of me. I'm not going to go out and buy new socks I will just have one less pair for now. The toes have been cut off of this mangled set. They are officially out of rotation and I will never rush into another chiropractor appointment hoping that he does not notice the enormous sock hole at my heel (yep, I wore it out of the house). I'm still frugal, becoming more so all the time but this kind of thing is important. I think it's my turn to matter. I'm worth it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Other Not too Terribly Interesting of News

I picked the first ripe tomato from my garden today. It was terribly ugly so I sliced it up for it's debut photo. I was given three different types of tomato plant. This particular individual is a black krim heirloom tomato. I will say this of the ugly little fellar, I don't like eating plain tomatoes; love them on sandwiches, burgers, in sauces, but just plain, no thanks! I took a bite out of this particular tomato and I was thrilled at the results. Factors such as it being a fruit freshly picked from the garden and that I grew it myself might play in but it was the sweetest most delicious tomato I've ever tasted. I'm so happy with my backyard produce this year; the first year I've ever tried gardening!

My new work pants still don't fit (I have not bought an alternate pair; I have been getting by pretty well) but I ate very healthily today so I'm on the right track. Haha! This little conundrum has opened my eyes to a sad fact, at least at my little spot on the planet the majority of woman wear their pants MUCH too tight. My over awareness in trying to fit into tiny pants has caused me to notice the vast majority of people bulging out of theirs. They must all be so uncomfortable and I dare say most of them probably didn't purchase way too small of pants in hopes of fitting into them months down the road. They just dress this way. I feel awful for them all. It is my opinion that people shouldn't have to go through life like sausages squeezed into their clothing, popping out at the seams. Who ever knew it was so common? There are life lesson's to be learned from every frugal moment, this is for sure!

Another frugal fact I discovered today: I am much more of a stickler when it comes to wasting a thing than I had ever realized. It drives me crazy when my mother in law uses like 1 tbl. of dish soap to wash her hands or when we're out and she grabs 10 ketchup packets and throws 8 of them in the trash without ever using them. But today I needed to make room in my fridge for my huge grocery shopping trip and I was forced to accomplish a task that I hadn't really realized I was putting off. There were several almost empty chocolate syrup, mustard, and ketchup bottles in the fridge that I could NOT rinse out for recycle because there was a little but left in them. You know, that little bit that doesn't really squeeze out? Today I tipped them all upside down and let the itty bits of their contents drain into much fuller bottles. It's amazing how much extra room one might have in their refrigerator if they remove the 5 almost empty bottles of condiments hanging around in there.

Grocery Adventures

We took some change out of my son's piggy bank this morning so that he could buy himself a donut and a penny pony ride at the store today. Then we were off, coupons in hand. I used my entire coupon haul from the catalina machine (thanks Sluggy; I couldn't remember what that thing was called) but boy was it a brain drainer. I had to purchase $10 worth of produce, $5 worth of cheese, $75 worth of groceries (just to name a few) in order to get such and such a deal from the different coupons. The store is doing a 10 items for $10, get the 11th item free special this week. I felt like I was doing an intricate jig saw puzzle as we zigged and zagged up and down grocery aisles trying to meet the criteria for each coupon. I mega tip my hat to extreme couponers. I do NOT know how they do it. I really hate grocery shopping.

Our cart was fuller than any shopping cart I can remember checking out with in years. I picked up $117.91 worth of groceries for $74.13. I saved $43.78 today; $13.50 worth of coupons from the newspaper last week and the catalina haul and $30.28 from items being on sale. My cart consisted of tons of food, cat litter, laundry detergent, some wipes for the diaper bag (at hubby's request), this Sunday's newspaper and our Free ice cream since we had over $75 worth of groceries. We ended the adventure with the penny pony ride. Little Abe holds his penny in his hand the entire time we're grocery shopping just waiting for that pony ride after check out. Whoo, I call that another mission accomplished!

I'm hoping for 3 no spend days in a row now. I think I'm going to have to pick up one or two things here and there though. Ah, fingers crossed.

Average daily spending for August: $18.56
(above average factors in 3 no spend days)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Go Ahead and SNSL

I keep seeing a pouch similar to this one at the stores I work in. I think it's supposed to be funny but I can't conjure up in my little mind one single reason a person would desire to own such an item. Every time I've strolled past the thing lately it's caused me to get quite angry. I don't get it. I also don't understand the YOLO thing so I guess I'm just so far removed from "the times" that I'm incapable of "getting it." But seriously?!?! Why? Are there really people who think this is a good way to live? Live it up folks! Have all the fun you can squeak in during a day. We can think about the future when it arrives. For now just waste everything you've been given, earned, worked for; for that matter spend now and pay the bills later too. Spend now and pay the mortgage later too. Spend now and take care of any financial responsibilities in your life later. Everything will work out just fine. Sigh.

I think what makes me most mad about this is that I VERY foolishly "spent now" for many years as a young adult and I don't have money to save now. Why would this be encouraged? It's destructive.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Messiness of Me

 This is pretty much exactly what my life feels like right now.

Two sleepy owls stuck beside memories of journeys past
Living among-st a decapitated bobble head and shattered monkey,
A broken giraffe,
Nail clippers and chapstick no one can ever find,
My grandparent's matchstick shoe that left a scar on my forehead from when I was only three,
A squirrel treasure (still intact),
An envelope of film negatives from almost 20 years ago...
Yep, almost exactly like that!

And not even because of any sort of tragedy or grim event. Just because sometimes life gets overwhelming and messy from having had too many balls in the air all at once for far too long, too many things on the to-do list that never got do'd; just too much in ones head and not enough adults to share that much with.

This is NOT a staged photograph. We absolutely have an odd little cubby in our dining room wall with all kinds of things Abe has broke or that we've snatched from his little fingers and stashed on that ledge. I neither added nor removed anything for this blog post. Isn't it lovely though!?!?

Average daily spending for August: $18.37

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Life Gives you Lemons Make Lemonade (or, um, fried green tomatoes)

A stalk broke on one of the tomato plants and I about cried. It was holding one of the biggest tomatoes, there are only two others that are bigger and riper than the fallen solider.
At first I was just sad and wondering if there was a way to save him and then I thought of fried green tomatoes. Confession numero uno: I've never battered and fried anything before. Confession number two: I've never eaten or tried or even seen in person a fried green tomato. But I still went for it.

Tonight for dinner me and the kiddo ate fried green tomatoes for the very first time. Needless to say I am so proud of myself. Seeing as I have zero experience in this arena I think I did grand. I made sandwiches out of the little green beauties: biscuit, egg, tomato slice and miracle whip.

Average daily spending for August: $17.64

On a more personal note, because yes it does get more personal than ones dinner choices, I've been having a rough time with the money lately. It's mostly dealing with one of the family members (not little Abe) spending a bit more thoughtlessly as of late and my trying to pay the bills on time and still budget money for food and gasoline and... it gets draining. I have noticed, and I think it's only natural, that when he's out spending like we did in the "old days" I want to be able to spend more too, buy new clothes, go out for a nice dinner or two, buy a few or A LOT of Starbucks beverages (I never buy starbucks coffee anymore), order some fancy chocolates; the list goes on. But I can't because I'm the responsible one. We don't have the money to spend on that stuff, not right now anyway. Sigh. This too shall pass. He's progressively gotten better and better and a bump in the road is a bump in the road but that is where I am at... I guess I should stick with the title and try and figure out how to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons?

*I won't publish any negative comments about him. I'm a blogger. I blog mostly about spending less money. This frustration I'm feeling is the sort of thing that I feel needs to be said here (at least every now and again) but I won't publish negative comments about my husband; not that anyone would try and be mean but I know that you've all got my back. (funny comments... maybe)
As a matter of fact yes, I did just go outside, pick some rose hips from the rose bush, and put them in my son's smoothie this morning.

Happy face.

I love eating from the yard!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hit the Jackpot (no I don't play the lottery)

Absolutely the itty bittyest things get me excited. The coupon machine at the grocery store spit out all these babies today. They are all good ones too. I don't usually hit the jack pot on the coupon machine at the grocery store (in case an explanation is needed there is a separate printer next to the receipt printer at the grocery store that prints out store promotions or even manufacturer promotions). I got:
save $1.50 on $10 of produce (any brand)
$3 off tidy cat litter (which I use)
save $1 on $5 purchase of cheese (any brand)
save $1.50 on frozen chicken or fish (any brand)
save $2 on cereal (any brand)
FREE ice cream on a $75 basket
save $1.50 on 3 ice creams

Pretty sure I'll be spending $75 on groceries at some point in the near future of which will include some produce, cat litter (if it's on sale), cheese, fish sticks, cereal, and free ice cream. I totally hit the jackpot!

Semi related the plain old factory farm eggs at the grocery store are now all the way up to $1.99 a dozen. I think it's safe to say that my egg lady isn't keeping up with inflation charging $2 a dozen for her free range GMO free farm fresh eggs. Geesh, food is truly skyrocketing in price.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Help Make a Dream Come True

I've asked for money once before during my 3 and a half years writing this blog. It was when I did the first $12 a day annual fund raiser. I can't resist posting this request because I follow this particular family on facebook and they are such a brilliant light in this world.
I went to youth group with this amazing woman of God. She went on a mission trip to Haiti several years ago and ended up falling in love with a man there. She now lives in Haiti and has been married to her wonderful husband for 3 years. They have a young son (I don't think he's a year old yet). They've started a school in a desolate area. They feed the kids there. It all just amazes me. Those beautiful children are being helped so much by these people.

My friend's Haitian husband has never gotten a visa to the US for financial reasons. My friend will be bringing their ADORABLE son home to the US for a visit fairly soon (it will be Benson's first time in the US) and she would LOVE for her husband to come along (it would also be his first time in the US) but as of right now they can't afford the visa. I'm just putting this out there for anyone who feels so inclined to donate a few dollars to this family. Oddly enough I had planned for my next $12 a day annual fundraiser to be for this family because I admire them so much but seeing as there is a need now I'm just going ahead with the request.

I've linked to their fundraiser beneath the two photos. If you're interested in donating you can just click on one of the photos.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This is a Long One But I've Got a Few Things to Say

I spent a few hours this morning at a relatives house helping them write a budget. They've really been struggling to pay the bills. I went out on a limb and offered to help them go over numbers. They've never operated with a budget before. They don't know where their money goes each month, or each week even. They don't have a check book registrar that they balance. They don't have any sort of computer software that they plug numbers into. As I found out this morning they don't even know "about" how much the electric bill, or the phone bill, or this or that bill is each month.

I'm NOT judging them. I'm fully aware that more people than not operate this exact same way. You get paid. You spend the money. You hope to pay the bills along the way. Period. I almost expect people to operate that way. It's so common. I was impressed that they jumped at my offer to help them draw up a budget and get their bills caught up. On the plus side they don't have any debt, a small student loan but otherwise they're in SOOOO much better shape than my husband and I have ever been. On that note I want to say that it probably helps a lot of people out to not have very good credit or even bad credit early in life. If you can't get a credit card it's considerably more easy to stay out of debt. I commend them for that! Oh, I could only wish...

I started with the number one goal in budgeting: spend every single penny on paper before the month begins. All of your money should have a goal; all of your dollars should have a name before you ever see them. I actually went over there knowing "how" I was going to help; I was going to give them basic budgeting principles and draw up a budget with them. Can I tell you, for the past few days, as I've been getting ready to go over there I've been second guessing myself, thinking," surely they must know all these things. surely I can be of no help by just telling them about budgeting. Hm, I wonder if there's something else that I'm not thinking of that they're really expecting me to help with." Not like asking for money. I knew that wasn't the case at all. But I was still trying to figure out some other thing that might be more knowledgeable than "simply" how to budget.

I had drawn up an outline before hand. They were so scared going into this "meeting." They had hit that hopeless point in the financial journey where there are so many shut off notices and late fees and past due letters that they didn't know if they could ever get out of it. I knew they were in better shape than they did simply because they have no debt (okay, I'm not counting their mortgage in that debtless declaration either).
I sat down with them and had them start filling in the blanks:
Projected monthly income for August
Mortgage payment
Phone bill
Electric bill

They sat there so impressed with my outline. Okay, there was fear on their faces too, like "oh my word, is there going to be a giant negative number at the end of this page?" We filled in the numbers and I kind of had to giggle when I told them, "see, you're really not as bad off as you thought." We got all their bills caught up by October. Nothing will be shut off (well except the internet and cable that were already disconnected... shoot and the garbage service (also already shut off)). We budgeted in a decent amount to grocery money, yes they are living on a set grocery budget now. I think they were both a tiny bit excited about the challenge of budgeting the groceries on considerably less money than they are used to for this month. After we were done they both seemed, I don't know, empowered. Like they're now in control of their money for the first time in their lives. We budgeted in back to school expenses for the kids, a hair cut for one of them, birthday presents for relatives. I tried to get every single expense out of them that they could think of.

We also drew up a weekly budget for the rest of August. "Now this is WHEN you're going to spend your money and $355 from 'this' check needs to be saved for your mortgage payment during 'that' week." They were thoroughly impressed. I'm going to go back at the end of the month to budget out each week in September with them and revise the September monthly budget that we drew up depending on how they do this month. I don't anticipate going back again after that. In truth I'm really impressed with them for accepting my help. They made me laugh when they said they really needed to pay me for my financial services. All I did was tell them how to budget. hehe :-) They seemed like an enormous weight had been lifted from them when I left there today. I'm very proud of them!

The whole ordeal got me thinking though, how many people lose their houses because they just don't ever budget their money? For real! How many people go about it the normal way: get paid, spend money, maybe pay the bills?!?! You can only get so far in the negative and then there's this enormous monster living on top of you and one day everything just caves. You lose the house. We call the monster poverty. But for real, how often is the monster just foolishness; just poor planning (or no planning)? We are living in a crazy world! Even look at the government of my country. All these wealthy beyond belief bureaucrats truly believe they can just spend any amount of "government" money, who cares if it's not actually there to spend and "one day it'll all balance out." IT DOESN'T"T WORK THAT WAY PEOPLE!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Mission Acomplished

Sometimes it really is just the little things in life that make it so sweet!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sweet Dreams

I just cooked up a batch of blueberry syrup. Oh my goodness! I want to go to sleep this very minute so that we can have our extravagant blueberry breakfast asap. I plan to thoroughly clean the kitchen this evening so it shall be all cozy and ready for pancakes tomorrow. I think I might even set an alarm so that I can get up before the babe (Abe). I haven't set an alarm for anything since before he was born (that'd be almost 3 years now). I think I love food way too much...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blueberry Bliss

I could have had a no spend day yesterday if I hadn't spent $20 on blueberries. A friend and I took the kiddos to a blueberry field and picked about 15 pounds of berries each. The little ones probably ate a pound each.

At one point little Abe picked a completely unripe berry, popped it in his mouth, after which you can only imagine the expression on his face. He proclaimed loudly, "these berries are gross!" Then he started picking berries off of the bush as fast as he possibly could and chucking them every which way with all of his might. It was hilarious but I quickly explained to him that we wouldn't want someone coming in our yard and chucking our strawberries all over the place and he most certainly needed to stop throwing someone else's blueberries that they'd worked very hard to grow because they wouldn't like it anymore than we would.

All in all it was a great time and we have thee most beautiful and enormous berries filling our fridge and freezer right now. I'm sensing all homemade blueberry pancakes, with blueberry syrup, with freshly whipped cream on top in the very near future. Oh, Yum!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunny Monday Morning

So far today I've been to the chiropractor, watered the backyard produce, got some laundry in, done a lesson with my son (we're working on colors, shapes, and letters and counting), and we went grocery shopping. There's chili on the stove. I should be able to get cornbread in the oven before I leave for work.

My grocery trip was pretty darn successful for a Monday morning. I hoped to spend $50 and ended up spending $52.25. I recouped yesterday's newspaper cost using $2.55 in coupons from the paper. Almost everything I purchased was on sale so I saved $24.78 on the entire bill. I'm pretty sure I can pull off three no spends in a row Tuesday-Thursday. I picked up enough stuff for 5 dinners and we're set on lunches and breakfasts and snacks, I think.

I'm off to work as soon as my son goes down for his nap. Pretty good day thus far! Hope you all are having a great one as well.

Average daily spending for August: $19.50

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July Numbers Are In

The below list is a simple summary of all our cash outflow for July minus my husband's spending (which includes his lunches and any spending strictly for himself; ie going to lunch with a friend, picking up beer for band practice, ect). Each of these categories has several things inside of them. For example home expenses includes the mortgage payment (and escrow), and equity line. Vehicle expenses includes the car payment, gasoline, and car insurance.

Home expenses $1108.95
Vehicle expenses $595.89
Utilities $379.97
Credit card payments $564.22
All spending $554.33

Average daily spending for July: $17.88

That makes August my fourth lowest spending month of the year.

January $15.66 a day
February $20.27 a day
March $17.01 a day
April $19.99 a day
May $20.55 a day
June $17.05 a day
July $17.88 a day

I'm happy to have come in under $18 a day for July. I didn't beat out June but with the pattern I'm developing I should have been pretty close to $20 a day in July. Yikes, what's that say for August? I'm not doing so well with the no spend days this year (I'm at 50 if I can squeak one out today) but maybe I can try and keep August spending down by packing in the no spends. That really does affect my spending for the better. 

Average daily spending for 2014: $18.24

I really didn't know where my daily average would end up this year. I hadn't included spending for my son in my daily average before this year. I'm starting to think that if I end 2014 under an $18 a day average I will have done really well. I was hoping for $15 a day but it's looking farther and farther off the radar. I might just revise my goal to $17 a day for the year. That sounds like a decent challenge.

Strawberry Advice?

My strawberry container garden has done great this year! Right now it has two different shoots hanging over the edges of the pot with about 6 or 7 small plants starting off of them. I know that if the plants were on the ground most of the new plants would root right there but seeing as they are hanging over the edge of a pot and seeing as I don't want them planted in the ground I'm wondering what's the best way to go about planting them?

The longer I'm leaving the shoots the more plants they are creating. I imagine I'll have to cut the shoots off eventually before winter arrives but do I place each little plant in a cup of water to grow roots? Do strawberry plants do that? I'd love to start a second container garden in back next year with the new plants and maybe give some away to friends too. I'm not sure what's the best way to go about keeping these new little beauties alive though.

Any strawberry plant experts out there?

Oh, I'm also wondering about wintering. I know that since they aren't in the ground they won't last the winter (and we're supposed to have another bitterly cold winter here this year). I saw online to put the pot in the garage next to an interior wall but we have a rickety detached garage and other than wind it will be the same temp in there as outside. Does anyone know, will putting them in the pantry in the basement be too warm for them to winter?

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Feel Like a Super Hero

Because I have tomatoes growing in my backyard;
Because I haven't purchased one single diaper for all of 2014 (my son is 29 months old);
Because I grind up all of our food scraps (fruit and veggie) and throw them into the "compost" pile;
Because even though 2014 seems to be flying by, little Abe and I have had some pretty great adventures so far this year;
Because I'm not a champ with money but I try really, really hard to be fiscally responsible;
And because I made lemon meringue pie! (I didn't make it again. I'm still talking about that same pie.)

Yep. I'm a super hero.